Ear Infection Remedies for Pets

| Modified on Jun 06, 2023
Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Lovemydogs (Loveland, Co, Usa) on 11/26/2011

I used hydrogen peroxide/water and this was the ONLY thing that helped Honey's ears. She is a 4 yr. old Shar Pei/Boxer mix and this dog is everything to me.

I had tried at least 4 different vet-prescribed medications and 1 OTC product for her chronic otitis externa. The vet also suggested a mix of vinegar/water to flush out the gunk but it didn't provide lasting relief. Basically, nothing worked.

My mom, in all her wisdom of 55 years, then suggested a 60/40 mix of peroxide/water, respectively. I saturated two cotton balls with the mixture, placed one in each ear, and massaged gently, letting the liquid loosen any buildup. I let her shake her head to get any excess out (and I get very dirty in the process). :)

I repeated this treatment once a day for one week. And her ears are better than they've ever been. They're not red and inflamed, nor are they as stinky. She isn't scratching at them as much, but she will lightly scratch at them every so often.

Now that they've cleared up, I'm going to try the coconut oil to soothe the skin in her ears. (The OTC treatment I had tried before the peroxide had left her with dry skin inside her ears). I'm going to apply the coconut oil with a swab but not POUR it in. I tried using coconut oil before but this was when she was on the other medication and her ears were not as cleared up.

I've read all over the internet "Don't use peroxide!" or "It can harm your dog's ears!" and my vet even hinted that she wouldn't put peroxide in her ears so don't use any product that contains it on my dog. BUT it has worked better than any other medication they've prescribed. How do you explain this?

Could it be that they want me to spend $15-$30 on a tiny tube of crap that doesn't even work so they can drive an Audi and not care about my dog's well-being and health? I'm not a conspiracy theorist but I'm looking at the cold, hard facts. I'm looking at the most amazing dog I've ever had and finally seeing her ears healed! How could the vet not have known about this miracle treatment that can heal my dog's ears and, not to mention, save me tons of money. I can buy a bottle of hydrogen peroxide for $1 and it lasts me for months.

My dogs mean the world to me; they are my family. And I would not take time make this post if I didn't really try this treatment and believe in the results. So you can try this if you want and post the results. I hope it will work for your dog, too!

Blue Powder Solution
Posted by Theresa (Mpls., Mn) on 10/09/2016

I have posted the Blue Power Ear Wash formula on Earth Clinic elsewhere, but cannot find the post. I LOVE this info on Blue Power Ear Cleanser. It's from Facebook and has the best information. Please post it.

Blue Power Ear Cleaner
The good, the bad and the ugly about this popular home made ear cleaner.

By Joan M. Beck
Starlight Springers, Minneapolis, MN

Blue Power Ear Cleaner (also known as Blue Voodoo Ear Cleaner and Gentian Violet Ear Cleaner) is a very popular home made remedy for keeping canine ears clean and infection free. Lots of Internet web sites tout its benefits, and it is frequently mentioned on dog-related chat groups. Most advocates of this treatment say its great, almost magic for treating ear infections, few if any mention how or why the preparation works and if it is safe for our canine friends. Being a natural skeptic of anything advertised as “magic", I decided a little research was in order.

Here is what I discovered:

The Formula:

There are several recipes for Gentian Violet based ear cleaners on the web. The following recipe seems to be the most popular and based on my research the safest and most effective formulation: 2 cups (1 pt.) 70% Isopropyl alcohol (don't use the 91% solution, it is too strong for use in an ear cleaner and can physically burn the delicate ear tissues) 4 Tablespoons boric acid powder 16 drops of 1% gentian violet solution or 8 drops of 2% gentian violet solution. (Order from your local pharmacist)

For best results, place two cups of isopropyl alcohol in a glass measuring cup and heat until luke-warm in the microwave. Heating the alcohol helps the boric acid powder dissolve in the liquid. This recipe calls for a very saturated concentration of boric acid compared to the amount of alcohol. If you don't heat the alcohol first, then you tend to get boric acid crystals settling out at the bottom of your bottle. Boric acid crystals in suspension (particles floating in the liquid) are less effective for altering the pH of the ear canal than boric acid in solution (particles dissolved in liquid). After mixing the boric acid and alcohol, then add the gentian violet. Be sure to place newspapers under the area where you are working. Gentian violet is a strong aniline dye and permanently stains, especially in its concentrated form. I have found that adding one drop of liquid dish soap to this warm purple mixture helps make this mixture work even better because the soap helps break down the surface tension of the earwax so the alcohol can dissolve it. Adding more than one drop of soap starts to change the pH of the solution and reduces its effectiveness. It is recommended that this product be used once or twice a day for two weeks to fight ear infections, then twice a month afterwards to prevent overgrowth of the microbes that cause infection. If your dog produces a lot of earwax and needs more frequent ear cleaning, you might consider alternating the use of this formula with a commercially available ear cleaning formula so long as the commercial ear cleaner also acidifies the ear.

The Good-Why it Works

In case you are wondering why this formula works, here is the scoop. Gentian violet is a fairly powerful antiseptic. Antiseptics are agents that destroy or inhibit the growth and development of microorganisms in or on living tissue. Unlike antibiotics that act selectively on a specific target, antiseptics have multiple targets and a broader spectrum of activity. Gentian Violet was quite popular prior to World War II, especially in veterinary use. It is particularly good at killing fungus like yeast and Staphylococcus bacteria, both big culprits in ear infections. For it to truly work, the solution needs to be in contact with the fungus or bacteria for a minimum of sixty seconds. So filling the ear canal and massaging it around for a minute is a good idea. I suggest you warm the solution slightly in the microwave to make it more comfortable for the dog and to help the alcohol (also an antiseptic) dissolves the wax build-up. Be sure to test the temperature on your own wrist before pouring it into the ear canal. The boric acid in the recipe helps to acidify the pH of the ear canal making it an inhospitable environment for nasty beasties to grow back.

The Bad - Some of the dangers

Now why, if this stuff is so great, don't we see commercial preparations of this formula? One reason is that Gentian Violet is a mild carcinogen (cancer causing agent) Studies at the National Center for Toxicological Research (and similar studies listed below) have shown Gentian Violet to be a thyroid and liver carcinogen for laboratory animals like rats, mice and rabbits. Another reason is that Gentian Violet is toxic to the sensitive cilia cells of the inner ear. If some of the solution happens to seep through a perforated eardrum it can cause a debilitating and permanent dizziness or deafness. A third consideration is its reported effects on the fetus. Pregnant animals in the Gentian Violet studies showed fetal abnormalities including those to the musculoskeletal and urogenital systems. Gentian violet also affected fertility and was deemed the cause of a high rate of post-implantation mortality (either death or reabsorption of the fetus). These factors make the product too big a potential liability for a commercial production. The FDA has banned its use as a food preservative and discourages its use in human medical and veterinary preparations designed for chronic use (like ear cleaners) although the agency seems to have no problem with occasional use.

The Ugly- More is not better

Please don't use more gentian violet than is recommended in the formula. Antiseptics, like Gentian Violet, have been found to be toxic not only to bacteria and fungus, but also to cells essential to the wound healing process, such as fibroblasts, keratinocytes, and leukocytes. However, this cell toxicity appears to be concentration dependent. In other words, in low (recommended) concentrations, antiseptics like Gentian Violet retain their antibacterial and anti fungal activity, but they don't end up killing off beneficial cells. The Moral of the Story When used properly this is a good ear cleaner/disinfectant. It has been reported to stop some ear infections when all other treatments have failed. Given the research studies, especially the cancer studies, it may not be advisable to use this as your dog's only ear cleaner, but it is a good product to get ears back under control. The fetal death and abnormality studies suggest that it is not advisable to use this product on a pregnant or lactating bitch. The risks of fetal abnormality are just too high. Colloidal silver preparations and non-staining iodine compounds work almost as well as Gentian violet preparations and have been shown to be very safe. Many commercial preparations are also very good and very safe. Look for those that do not contain chlorhexidine (also can cause birth defects) and state that the product leaves the ear acidified to discourage re-growth of bacteria and yeast.


National Center for Toxicological Research
www.fda.gov/ora/compliance_ref/ cpg/cpgfod/cpg578-600.htm

Littlefield, N. A., B.-N. Blackwell, C. C. Hewitt, and D. W. Gaylor. 1985. Chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity studies of gentian violet in mice. Fundam. Appl. Toxicol. 5:902-912

Case, R. A. M., and J. T. Pearson. 1954. Tumours of the urinary bladder in workmen engaged in the manufacture and the use of certain dyestuff intermediates in the British chemical industry. Br. J. Ind. Med. 11:213-221..


www.fda.gov/ora/compliance_ref/ cpg/cpgfod/cpg578-600.htm

Antiseptics on Wounds: An Area of Controversy
Anna Drosou, MD, Anna Falabella, MD, Robert S. Kirsner, MD
Wounds 15(5):149-166, 2003. © 2003 Health Management Publications, Inc.
Posted 06/11/2003

Characteristics of systemic and topical agents implicated in toxicity of the middle and inner ear
Peter S. Roland, MD

Dermatologische Klinik und Poliklinik der Technischen Universität München, Biedersteiner Strasse 29; D-80802, Dr. Knut Brockow: München (Germany)

Brennan SS, Leaper DJ. The effect of antiseptics on the healing wound: A study using the rabbit ear chamber. Br J Surg 1985;72:780-2.

Bennett LL, Rosenblum RS, Perlov C, et al. An in vivo comparison of topical agents on wound repair. Plast Reconstruct Surg 2001;108(3):675-85.

Livingstone DH, Cryer HG, Miller FB, et al. A randomized prospective study of topical antimicrobial agents on skin grafts after thermal injury. Plast Reconstruct Surg 1990;86(6):1059-

De Gracia CG. An open study comparing topical silver sulfadiazine and topical silver sulfadiazine-cerium nitrate in the treatment of moderate and severe burns. Burns 2001

Crossfill M, Hall R, London D. The use of chlorhexidine antisepsis in contaminated surgical wounds. Brit J Surg 1969;56(12):906-8.

Brennan SS, Foster ME, Leaper DJ. Antiseptic toxicity in wounds healing by secondary intention. J Hosp Infect 1986;8(3):263-7.

Lineaweaver W, McMorris S, Soucy D, Howard R. Cellular and bacterial toxicities of topical antimicrobials. Plast Reconstr Surg 1985;75:394-6.

Skog E, Arnesjo B, Troeng T, et al. A randomized trial comparing cadexomer iodine & standard treatment in the out-patient management of chronic venous ulcers. Br J Dermatol 1983;109:77-83.

Robins P, Day CL Jr, Lew RA. A multivariate analysis of factors affecting wound healing time. Dermatol Surg Oncol 1984;10:219-22.

Geronemus RG, Mertz PM, Eaglstein WH. Wound healing: The effects of topical antimicrobial agents. Arch Dermatol 1979;15:1311-4.

Cooper ML, Laxer JA, Hansbrough JF. The cytotoxic effects of commonly used topical antimicrobial agents on human fibroblasts and keratinocytes. J Trauma 1991;31(6):775-84.

Payne DN, Gibson SAW, Lewis R. Antiseptics: A forgotten weapon in the control of antibiotic resistant bacteria in hospital and community settings. J Roy Soc Health 1998;118(1):18-22.

British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 139 Issue S3 Page 13 - December 1998
1365-2133.1998. Vol. 139 Issue S3, Staphylococcus aureus colonization in atopic dermatitis and its therapeutic implication, Abeck & Mempel

Dietary Changes
Posted by Debbiefudge (Brighton, Uk) on 08/18/2013

Hi. Any dog that suffers with ear infections/problems, due to yeast.

Should definately change to raw feeding. Meat/Bones/Fish etc. NO vegetables as these contain natural sugars. Which feed the yeast. No steroids or antiiotics. They feed the yeast too. My Vet almost killed one of my dogs, so I have learnt all this the hard way. NO treats. A raw one is much better as a treat. Keeps their teeth clean. Gives them calcium. I'd say a big no to goats milk or any other milk.. Give probiotic yogurt every day. And, raw garlic. (A natural way to keep fleas away)

A regular dose of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) will keep worms at bay. And, also treat any. (MUST be Food Grade). Don't put any chemicals on to or in your dog. Don't give yearly booster vaccinations.

I have been raw feeding my 3 Shihtzus for 4 years now. And they are extremely healthy. No fat on them. Just pure muscle. And, it is so easy to do. I rotate what I feed them. Only, the one whom the vet nearly killed, has an on going issue with his ears. And that's because his ear canals are narrower than they should be. So, I regularly clean them with half water/half white vinegar, And put in colloidal silver, if he gets an infection.......

Most of these things are caused by food allergies. Skin problems etc. He has an overgrowth of yeast. Every time my groomer comes, she washes him in an anti fungal shampoo and the final rinse is half white vinegar/half water and left on to dry and both sides of his ears are shaved. (I don't use ACV on him, because it contains apples. That's why I use white vinegar, instead)

Hydrogen Peroxide, Vinegar, Rubbing Alcohol
Posted by Christine (Vancouver, British Columbia) on 04/12/2012

Our daschund, Copper, had a bad ear infection that had caused the ear to swell almost shut and was oozing a black discharge. We took 3 equal parts vinegar, rubbing alcohol and hydrogin peroxide, mixed well and applied enough to the ear to fill the canal area. We then massaged the ear for 2-3 minutes and had the dog shake her head several times to drain out the fluid. We then took papertowels and cotton swabs and swabed out the area carefully, as the skin was quite red and swollen. Within half and hour the ear swelling was reduced by half and the redness was significantly less. I treated her ear once a day for 3 days and the ear cleared up by day 3. Each day since I check and wipe out any new loosened wax, however the ear has never looked better. This remedy did not seem to cause our dog any discomfort, but we did use an ear lotion from the pet store to sooth irritation after the irrigation. Total cost was less than $10 and the quick healing for Copper was priceless.

Blue Powder Solution
Posted by Pamela (Omaha, Nebraska) on 12/30/2007

My dog who has had constant ear problems for years has been on blue powder solution for 2 days and it is definitely providing relief. My veterinarian is out over the long holidays and it great not to have to pay for emergency care. I am hoping this is a more permanent cure that previous prescription ointments, etc. I have looked around the internet and found that many sites connect chronic ear problems to lack of some nutrients, and am currently going to try feeding my dog 1/2 a sweet potatoe every other day, and see if we can go longer between ear problems.

Colloidal Silver
Posted by The_specialist (Atlanta, Ga) on 09/04/2011

My dogs had has ear infections and I was able to heal them in just 2 days with colloidal silver. Just a few drops in the infected ear, and in 48 hours, the ear infection was gone. It has happened several times and it works all the time.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Phyllis (Ocala, Fl) on 12/11/2015

I've found the same results with peroxide. I've used it for years, now, but was told the same thing. I have a dear elderly couple who live next to me, they've literally spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the Vet. to have no results with there dog. This dogs ears were terrible after a year of Vet care, I constantly told him just buy peroxide and use it on his ears, that's all I use. He wouldn't do it, until recently, and he chuckles when he talks to me and says. you swear by this stuff and continually told me to switch, and I'm happy I did, but wish I'd listened many dollars before. Believe it, their dogs ears are better then they've been in years...due to the use of peroxide!

Coconut Oil
Posted by Allison (Montpelier, Vt) on 12/27/2012

wanted to recommend Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for pets ears. My guys lick it right off of the spoon (it's just as good for their insides as well as their outsides) and you can clean your pup's ears out with a bit of the coconut oil as it's an excellent anti-fungal remedy. I put a dab on an organic cotton ball and wipe it out when it looks yuckky inside, sometimes it takes a couple of cotton balls so don't be surprised if you have to do this more than once at a time.

I give 1 tsp for every 10 lbs (meaning 1 tablespoon for every 30 lbs) internally. I spread some on a piece of toast in the morning with peanut butter to get my pup use to it initially but then he loved the taste and just licks it off the spoon every morning. If you give him too much, he'll get diarrhea (just so you know). The stuff is great for humans too so it's something everyone in the family can benefit from!

Posted by Theresa (Mpls., Mn) on 09/04/2013

At the first sign of a head tilt or constant head shaking and ear scratching, check the ears for foreign bodies and discharge. Ears may be flushed with the ACV/H20 remedy, but sore ears that are raw from scratching should be treated first with olive oil infused with fresh garlic. The fresh garlic has anti-fungal/anti-yeast properties and will aid in combating a yeasty ear infection while the olive oil provides a soothing means of delivery as well as working with the garlic to combat ear mites.

Take 1 cup of olive oil and add 1 good sized clove of fresh, chopped garlic and let steep overnight. Strain the garlic from the oil, and then warm to a comfortable temperature for the pet [101 degrees F]. Appy generously to the ear canal, making sure it gets down deep; massage the base of the ear canal near the pet's jaw and listen for it squishing about. The pet will shake its ears to remove excess oil. You can apply the garlic infused olive oil 2 x day for 2-3 days; this will allow the ear tissue to heal to where you can then use the ACV/H20 remedy with no stinging or burning.

You can purchase already made preparations of Garlic and Mullien oil or Neem oil that can also be used on painful ears; these oils need not be used full strength from the bottle, they can be diluted with olive oil 50:50. Always warm to a comfortable temperature before using in the ear.

Blue Powder Solution
Posted by Karen (Roscommon, Mi) on 02/11/2012

Our dog suffers from recurring ear infections. Our vet continued to give him a prescription cream. It would work while being used, but once it was gone, the infection returned. I finally did a search on the internet for a natural solution and found a recipe for the Blue Powder Solution... I mixed up a batch and finally, his ear infection was cleared up!

After being ear infection free for over a year, I got lazy about the solution and hadn't used it in quite some time.. He ended up with another flare up while we were on vacation. We purchased a herbal product, but it didn't seem to do much of anything..

As soon as we got home, I mixed up a new batch of the blue powder solution, only because his ear was very raw and tender, I used witch hazel instead of rubbing alcohol... It appeared to be very soothing to him, and within 2 weeks, the infection was gone..

I've learned my lesson.. I'll make sure he gets one dose a month from now on, which is recommended once the infection is under control.

The solution calls for boric acid and Gentian Violet Solution. I found boric acid at a "real" pharmacy and the pharmacist from Walgreens ordered the Gentian Violet for me (it only cost a couple of bucks)..

Great natural remedy that cost pennies, but most importantly, works!

Distilled White Vinegar
Posted by Joeybluesmom (San Diego, Ca) on 07/31/2011

Oh my goodness, I just have to get on here and say thank you for this website!!!!!! I thought my dog was going deaf. He hadn't been able to respond to anything for about 5 days and I just thought it was old age... My dog is currently on Tom's mange treatment and just developed a nasty ear infection of which at the age of 11 he has never had. Poor guy. So, I jumped on earth clinic to see if there was a cure for ear infections that I could do from home. Sure enough, vinegar and water! Go figure. So, I made a 50/50 solution of the white distilled and water and used a medicine dropper and filled his ear with it. I rubbed that hollow area from the outside for a few seconds and let him shake his head to get the excess out. And guess what? Within a few minutes he was responding to everything we said! I almost cried. I've never been so happy to hear my dog growl and bark when we say "Here, Kitty kitty"!! There are no words. My heart is so happy right now. If I hadn't seen it myself, I'm not sure I would have believed it.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil
Posted by Kerri (Clarkston, Mi) on 04/10/2013

My black lab had ear infection issues for the longest time and we treated him with everything under the sun the vet could think of, she ran every test. I changed his food, made his food, and finally the one couple things that have helped are warm water mixed with apple cider vinegar to clean the ear if its full of debris. Then after the debris is cleaned I put a few drops of tea tree mixed with coconut oil.

I do this twice a day until I see improvement. Its important to clean the ear thoroughly by massaging under the ear drum while the vinegar water mixture is in the canal. Let the dog shake his/her ear after you put the fluid in it will loosen and debris and then take either a cotton ball or gauze pad to clean completely.

Dietary Changes
Posted by Dee (Keene, Nh) on 10/27/2009

I have finally cured my cocker spaniel's ear infections. He had a yeast infection in both ears - first I tried Zymox which worked but then his infections came back. He also had a skin condition which cockers are known for. I've kept his ears clean and have been giving him Alaskan Salmon Oil and changed his diet to foods from his origin - Cockers came from Portugal - so basically foods that his ancestors ate - lamb, etc.

Posted by Dr Scott (Brisbane, Qld) on 03/10/2013

1. For infected ears rather than putting acids or alcohols into the already inflammed stinging chronic ear, try Manuka honey. Doesn't sting, i'ts active again all the harmful organisms in the ear (including Pseudomonas), and is safe if the ear drum is ruptured. It soothes inflammed skin and may helps draw material out of eardrums like a poultice. There are no bacterial resistence issues either. Also helps to deodorize stinky ears as well. Only downside is it can be a bit messy to apply and when it dries but can remove with wet cloth. Just Instill a few mls with a syringe and massage in -its easier when warm.

Works wonderfully and very economical and I use this in my Vet practice.

2. For those waxy or itchy allergic ears water based products like vinegar doesnt remove wax very well, try either warm olive oil or very dilute orange oil mixed with a little oatmeal. Good luck

Rubbing Alcohol, Violet Solution, Boric Acid
Posted by Jp4120 (Phila., Pa) on 01/27/2010

cure for dog ear infections

this works perfectly for my dogs after many wasted trips to the vet and many useless expensive drug treatments

[Recipe found on the web ]

* 16 Oz. Isopropyl Alcohol
* 4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
* 16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%

Mix together in alcohol bottle and shake well. You also will need to shake solution every time you use it to disperse the Boric Acid Powder. To use, purchase the "Clairol" type plastic bottle to dispense solution to affected ears.

TREATMENT: Evaluate condition of ears before treating and if very inflamed and sore do not attempt to pull hair or clean out ear at all. Wait until inflammation has subsided which will be about 2 days. Shake the bottle each time before using. Flood the ear with solution (gently squirt bottle), massage gently to the count of 60, wipe with a tissue. Flood again on first treatment, wipe with a tissue and leave alone without massage. The dog will shake out the excess, which can be wiped with a tissue. Best done outside wearing old clothes, as the Gentian Violet does stain fabrics.

The SCHEDULE of treatment is as follows: Treat 2x per day for the first week to two weeks depending upon severity of ears. Treat 1x per day for the next 1-2 weeks. Treat 1x per month (or even less frequently, depending on the dog). All of these ingredients should be available at a pharmacy. Despite the alcohol, most dogs will not object to even the first treatment. The Boric Acid Powder soothes the ear. The Gentian Violet Solution is an anti-infection agent. The solution appears to work well on any and all ear problems from mites to wax to canker. After the 2nd or 3rd day you can clean out the ear with a Q-tip or cotton balls. Their success rate for this treatment is 95-99%. Those who do not succeed have usually not done the treatment long enough or have not been regular about it.

Distilled White Vinegar
Posted by Tom (S.Salem, NY) on 07/28/2009

I have a rescue pit bull which has had chronic ear infections since she was about 5 months old. Since the first infection I have administered nothing but pure white vinegar. This always works and usually in a short time. I lay the dog down using voice commands (For this routine she is very reluctant but obedient, ALWAYS offering the good ear and I have to flip her). From here I almost fill the ear canal w/the vinegar (Which is warmed in hot tap water). I then massage the ear for up to 2 minutes(Listening for the gurgling in the canal to know I'm getting it all), drain, wipe it out with cotton balls cleaning all of the ear.Thoroughly dry when finished. I then put a very light coating of olive oil or bag balm on the skin (Administered w/fingertip). I have spoken to vets who agree this is a good remedy because the vinegar will balance the ear's atmosphere and the oil may kill bacteria. I never heard of using any water mix with the vinegar. My concern is that the water or a moist atmosphere (Like in humans) is what causes a lot of infections. I also never heard of using ACV just white. I like the idea of adding rubbing alcohol to help dry the ear but this will also burn the skin that is often damaged from scratching or rubbing.